Stratton, Presley Share Connection; Mullen, Ray in Tupelo

Kirk Presley knows what Chris Stratton is about to encounter. He was once a first-round Major League draft pick, and while there is a lot of prestige that goes with that, there are also a lot of challenges.

In today’s Journal, you can read about Presley and Stratton, who on Monday was drafted 20th overall by the San Francisco Giants (CLICK HERE). The two know each other well – both are Tupelo natives, and Presley coached Stratton in American Legion ball.

Stratton will face mental and psychological challenges along the way.

“One, you’re thrown into a mix of a lot of very good players and a lot of very good pitchers,” Presley said. “You really become just another number, or it was for me anyway. Of course again, I was younger when I was drafted. He’s been out on his own before, playing summer ball, so that won’t be as big of a challenge for him.

“I think it’s just managing being pulled in a lot of different directions and, honestly, learning how to say no. When you try to please everybody, and I know that may sound selfish to say, but you’ve got to have that me time.”

So how does one manage all this? A certain amount of selfishness, Presley said, is necessary.

“You certainly don’t want to let everything else take away from your down time, because you need it mentally, and you certainly don’t want it to take away from your preparation time, mentally and physically. You have to turn that phone off. It was a lot easier when I was coming through. Cell phones were just coming about. I can only imagine how tough it is these days with cell phones and Twitter and Facebook.”

Arm injuries ultimately ended Presley’s career after five years in the minor leagues. Avoiding arm issues for Stratton will be a daily effort.

“It’s listening to your body, first of all,” Presley said. “It’s making a commitment. It’s a lifetime, it’s an everyday commitment of taking care of your body. He’s prepared for that, there’s no doubt.”

• Also in today’s Journal, you can read about the Our State Tour making its stop in Tupelo last night (CLICK HERE). Football coach Dan Mullen met with us media hacks, and one question was about whether the Bulldogs will really throw the ball more this year with Tyler Russell at quarterback.

“Yeah. I like to run it, too,” Mullen said. “I guess a lot depends in different games sometimes. When you look at the team, and you’re looking at a group of senior wide receivers, a quarterback that’s been in the system now and understands the system. He’s been here. You look at all the quarterbacks we have, he’s been here almost as long as all of them. And so he really has experience in the system. I know we’re going to have a lot of trust in Tyler to throw the football.”

For video of Mullen, CLICK HERE.

We also spoke with new men’s basketball coach Rick Ray, who has a seven-man signing class and is open to filling the final scholarship spot. He has two points guard, high schooler Jacoby Davis and juco transfer Trivante Bloodman. I asked him to compare and contrast the two.

“Jacoby is a bigger, stronger kid at this point and time in his career, even though he is the high school kid. I think he’s a better shooter at this point in time,” Ray said. “Trevante is more of a penetrator, more of a guy that can get into the lane and make plays, and I think he’s going to be a better defender 94 feet. But that’s all just initial thoughts. Until those guys get in and start competing against each other and against everyone else, we really don’t know for sure.”

For video of Ray, CLICK HERE.